Sweden rolls out Covid passes for events – but some foreigners are still excluded

Sweden will for the first time start using its Covid vaccine certificate for certain events on December 1st. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
Those groups who can't yet access Sweden's Covid-19 vaccine passes despite being fully vaccinated were still not able to apply for them on December 1st when they were introduced for admission to certain events.

From Wednesday, a valid Covid-19 vaccine pass will be required at indoor public events and public gatherings of over 100 people that don’t have any other infection control measures in place, such as social distancing or a limit on the maximum number of people allowed per group.

But not everyone who is fully vaccinated is able to get a Swedish vaccine pass.

Groups that are currently excluded from Sweden’s vaccine pass system are people who are living in Sweden with a temporary reserve number rather than the standard personnummer or samordningsnummer, and people who got vaccinated in another country.

The Local has covered this issue in a series of articles since the passes launched on July 1st, although at the time Sweden only used them for exemptions to border restrictions. 

In October the government ordered the e-Health Agency to develop a system by the end of 2021 that would enable them to issue the Covid vaccine passes to people who are based in Sweden and are fully vaccinated, but are currently unable to get a certificate to prove it.

A spokesperson for the Health Ministry told The Local on Friday that the e-Health Agency now has the “technical solution” for this ready, but authorities are still working on ironing out legal details which are needed for healthcare administrators to report vaccines for these groups to the right databases.

“The work is ongoing with the goal of being able to start using the solution from January 1st 2022,” the spokesperson confirmed in an email.

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Some people who got vaccinated in a country outside of Sweden will be able to use their foreign vaccine certificate to gain entry to public events from December 1st. As The Local has previously reported, this includes holders of EU-issued vaccine passes and non-EU/EEA countries that have joined the EU’s vaccine pass system, and can therefore be validated alongside the EU digital Covid certificate.

These certificates are treated as the equivalent of Sweden’s vaccine pass.

But it won’t be possible at this stage for people who got both of their Covid vaccine jabs in other non-EU countries, for example the US and India, to use their foreign vaccine passes to take part in those public events and gatherings that will require it from December 1st.

Sweden does accept other options for entering the country, such as proof of recovery or a negative Covid-19 test, but only proof of double vaccination will be valid for events. In terms of the US in particular, Sweden accepts US-issued vaccine certificates when it comes to direct travel from the US to Sweden, but not for domestic events. The Health Ministry said it hoped to eventually resolve this issue too.

“The government believes that visitors from third countries (outside the EEA) should have access to public gatherings and events where vaccination certificates are required if they can show that they are fully vaccinated. However, the government needs to review the legal and technical possibilities for this,” said the Health Ministry spokesperson, adding that they hoped more countries would join the EU system.

Many European countries are further ahead than Sweden when it comes to offering people vaccinated outside of the union the EU digital Covid certificate. In France, for instance, US visitors with a CDC certificate or Indians who got a Covishield vaccination back in India can go to the pharmacy to get an EU-issued QR code for free. This then lets them use that code anywhere in the EU, including Sweden.

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